Increase Parent Support for Pre-Literacy Skill Development

From ACEs & Resilience Resource Commons for Communities
Jump to: navigation, search

Return to ZOOM MAP--Enhance Early Brain Development in Infants & Toddlers   

Pre-literacy skills include auditory processing, phonological awareness, conversation, storytelling, phonics perception, word recognition, knowledge of books and print, and letter name recognition. There is substantial evidence there is a critical period—around six months’ old—for learning the sounds of a language. Babies only learn language from humans speaking and singing to them, not by watching a video or listening to an audio recording.

( The brain’s ability to process sound and speech, and retain sounds, words and meanings in long-term memory is critical for literacy later on.

Increasing parent support for sound processing and phonological awareness entails helping parents understand the importance of natural behaviors such as rocking their babies while saying nursery rhymes, bounces, tickles and finger plays, and singing simple songs. These rhythmic activities are essential.



Developing Sound Processing and Phonological Perception

Neuroscientific research has found that early music-making is highly correlated with reading achievement. Babies whose parents sing to them have more precise neural encoding of speech and better sound processing leading to early language development and enhanced communication. Babies who are rocked and bounced to the beat of songs and rhymes develop the ability to physically keep a steady beat (synchronization) and later will be better readers. Conversely, children who cannot keep a steady beat very often struggle with reading.

Research has advanced on understanding the development of pre-literacy capabilities of the brain. This short NPR story shares of a promising test that is done as young as 3 years old that provides valuable insights on the development of precursors to reading and speech.  Nina Kraus, a professor of Neurobiology at Northwestern University is leading important reserach in this field. 

For a concise description of sound processing development, visit the Brainvolts website:
For a meta-analysis of research studies about music training and auditory processing skills:

Preschool-aged children need to sing songs, physically keep the beat, and clap rhythms of the words to enable sound processing and phonological perception. Both rhythm perception and letter-sound knowledge happen through phonological perception. Children with better pitch awareness have better letter-sound awareness. Later, when children learn phonics, and match letters with the sounds they represent in words, their brains actually grow new neural pathways between visual and phonological areas. Continued singing and rhythmic movement foster this growth while simultaneously motivating children to practice.

See video about how children’s brains learn to read (Neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene): 

Tools and Resources

See video of Ann Kay: How to Use Singing to Enable the Brain for Reading for PreK and K


A Song a Day! Brain Prep for Pre-Readers
Daily 15-minute lessons organized in 10 levels, each with five lessons
The Rock ‘n’ Read Project


The Rock ‘n’ Read Course
Training for early childhood family educators  

Promising Practices and Case Studies

Examples from communities that have implemented tools focused on this objective

Scorecard Building

Possible Objective Details

Possible Measures

Actions to Take

Actions for Coalitions

Actions for Individuals